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Liverpool – Manchester Railway – Timeline

Liverpool – An Expanding Port

Manchester – Centre of Industry

The Problem – How to transport goods from Manchester to Liverpool for export?

  • Use Canals (Slow & Expensive)
  • Use Turnpike roads (also slow, rough and sometimes dangerous)

First proposal for a railway by William James (businessman) who had seen early railways operating in coal mines in North East England.

Support from other businessmen, including John Moss (Liverpool banker), Henry Booth, Joseph Sanders and Charles Lawrence (Lord Mayor of Liverpool).

First proposal to Parliament

Proposal opposed by:

  • Canal Owners
  • Wealthy landowners

Plans rejected.

New proposals

Revised route, objectors overcome. Plans for railway accepted by Parliament. Company formed. George Stephenson appointed Engineer.

Work begins.
Chat Moss;
Liverpool (Tunnel)

Sankey Viaduct
Newton Bridge
Chat Moss

The Railway begins to take shape

The Problem – How to operate the Trains?

Three Alternatives:

Steam Locomotives
Stationary Winding Engines

Rainhill Locomotive Trials
Railway promoters decide to hold a competition;
Who can design the best steam locomotive to work on Railway?

Prize: £500

Location: Rainhill (1 -mile course)

Each competitor to run total distance of 70 miles pulling a load three times its own weight at not less than 10 mph.

Five entrants:
Rocket; Novelty; Sans Pareil, Perseverance; Cyclopede (powered by horses)

6th October 1829 – The Trials Begin

  • Great Carnival Atmosphere
  • 12,000 – 15 ,000 people
  • Engineers & Scientists present
  • Newspaper representatives
  • Observers from America, France, Germany
  • Ladies & gentlemen from Liverpool, Manchester, St.Helens and Warrington
  • Many arrive by horse-drawn carriages of all shapes and sizes
  • Atmosphere much like a horse race
  • Spectators line the track
  • 300 special constables employed to keep order
  • Large tent erected for Ladies
  • Band played music
  • Directors of Railway Company each wears a white ribbon

Cyclopede & Perseverance soon withdrawn.
Crowd’s favourite – Novelty followed by ‘Sans Pareil’; then ‘Rocket’.
‘Rocket’ entered by George Stephenson and built by his son, Robert, wins easily, because – technically, it was the most advanced.

1830 Railway Completed

15 September 1830 – Grand Opening

  • Duke of Wellington (Prime Minister) present.
  • Eight trains run from Liverpool to Manchester.
  • Accident at Parkside. Trains stop for water, passengers walk on track. William Huskisson (MP for Liverpool) is run over by a train and killed.
  • Despite this, opening ceremonies continue; the railway is an immediate success.
  • Introduces concept of speed into society.
  • Leads to expansion of railway network in Britain, Europe, America and throughout the world.

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